MassUltra Roundup: Hellgate, Freight Train, Hitchcock, and Blaze Pioneer

As the 2022 ultramarathon racing season nears its conclusion a handful of runners from New England squeezed in one last race during the Dec. 10-11 weekend. Their winter effort paid off in a big way for a few of them with finishes on or near the podium. That included New Hampshire’s Leah Nicholson who earned a runner-up finish at the Hellgate 100K in Virginia, as well as Boston’s Bridget Gormley who came within seconds of the podium at the Freight Train 50K in Virginia, and Maine’s Tyler Lupien who landed in the top five at his first 100-miler in Iowa. Those efforts and more are included in this edition of the roundup.

Hellgate 100K

A midnight start sent 138 runners into the darkness on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Hellgate 100K in Fincastle, Va. By the time it was over, daylight had come and gone again, they’d endured plenty of rain and 119 runners had finished the race through the Blue Ridge Mountains within 18 1/2 hours. That included four New England residents.

None of the New Englanders had a better day than Leah Nicholson, 35, of Lebanon, N.H., who was the women’s runner-up in 13:35:50. Her performance was also good for 26th place overall. Michael Dubova, 38, of Charlottesville, Va., was the men’s winner for the third year in a row in 10:16:51. Marisa Romeo, 28, of Asheville, N.C., topped the women’s field by 31 minutes in 13:04:30.

Lance Doherty, 46, of Somerville, Mass., placed 34th overall in 14:07:25, 64-year-old Jerry Turk of Guilford, Conn., was 66th in 15:50:48, and 48-year-old Dan Broom of Branford, Conn., finished in 17:01:35.

Freight Train Ultras

Just 42 seconds separated Bridget Gormley from a podium finish in her ultramarathon debut. Gormley, 32, of Boston, Mass., ran her first ultra in the 50K race at the fourth annual Freight Train Ultras on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Farmville, Va. Racing along a mostly flat, fast rail trail course, Gormley hammered out a sub-5-hour finish and placed fourth in the women’s field (16th overall) in 4:56:28, less than a minute behind the third-place woman.

It was a particularly fast year for the women’s field as four of the top seven performances in race history were recorded, including a new course record from 43-year-old Kristin Herring of Newport News, Va., who was the women’s champion and fifth overall finisher in 4:11:04. John Stilling, 34, of Vienna, Va., was the men’s winner in 3:26:14. There were 118 finishers within 10 hours.

Additionally, the event offered a 100K distance that saw 45 runners finish; none were New England residents.

Hitchcock Experience Endurance Runs

Three years ago, Tyler Lupien traveled to Iowa to race his first 50-miler at the Hitchcock Experience Endurance Runs and earned a top-10 finish. On Dec. 10-11, Lupien returned to Honey Creek, Iowa, to make the Hitchcock Experience his first 100-miler.

Lupien was one of 18 runners to take on the race which involved eight 12.5-mile trail loops through the Hitchcock Nature Center, amassing more than 19,000 feet of climbing by the time it was done. Once again, Lupien found success in the Midwest. The 47-year-old from Waldoboro, Maine, finished fifth overall in 27:18:15. Seventeen runners ultimately finished within the 33-hour time limit. Two runners broke the 24-hour mark, led by 32-year-old Jeffrey Pratt of Sioux Falls, S.D., who earned the victory in 20:29:37.

The event also included 101K and 50-mile ultras. No New England residents were among the finishers of those distances.

Blaze Pioneer 50K

Matt Hoadley opened his 2022 ultramarathon racing season by heading west to Oregon for the Gorge Waterfalls 50K. He closed his season by heading south to Florida.

Hoadley, 44, of Scituate, Mass., was the lone New England resident in the field at the third annual Blaze Pioneer 50K on Saturday, Dec. 10, in Middleburg, Fla. The race took place on the Pioneer Trail System in Jennings State Forest and tested runners with a variety of forested and sandy terrain and a fair amount of climbing for Florida.

Thirty runners finished the race within 10 hours, including Hoadley who crossed the finish line in 7:42:16. Trevor Beesley, 36, of St. Augustine, Fla., set a new men’s course record of 4:33:06 with his victory while 28-year-old Caroline Moore of Jacksonville, Fla., set a new women’s course record in 4:46:18 while placing second overall.

*Editor’s Note: Results are found on a variety of sites, including ultrasignup.com, UltraRunning Magazine, and official race websites. We do the best we can to find as many results as possible to report on and recognize the local ultrarunning community.

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